Memo to Chris Osgood: Play Better

Patrick QuarryContributor IJune 5, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 04:  Jordan Staal #11 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against goaltender Chris Osgood #30 of the Detroit Red Wings during Game Four of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 4, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Note: Please read the entire article or you'll be disappointed with the outcome and you won't understand why I wrote it. Thanks.

Somewhere between Eddie Olczyk telling me that aggressiveness may lead to a penalty and Sidney Crosby plunging to the ice because he was shot (he was actually slashed in the leg and came back out the next shift), I realized Chris Osgood played a big part in this Wings' meltdown in the second period.

Osgood has been called the worst goalie to ever win a Stanley Cup. If things go right for the Wings he could be called the worst goalie ever to win three Stanley Cups and to have been a part of four. That title could change if he wins, but it wouldn't change my impression.

Osgood was drafted to be the goalie the Red Wings needed to take back the Cup in 1991. The Red Wings realized that Ozzie wasn't good enough to win in 1994.

The answer was Mike Vernon who led them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994-95 and nearly won it for the Wings. That didn't happen though.

By 1997, when the Red Wings were reaching their full potential, they called upon Osgood to be their goalie for the season. He was good in the regular season, but only OK.

When the playoffs came he was benched in favor of the veteran, Vernon. Apparently Osgood couldn't win the big games, but Vernon could. The Wings eventually swept the doomed Philadelphia Flyers behind the brilliance of Vernon, not Osgood.

Vernon was traded to San Jose before he even realized he won the Cup. The Wings thought Osgood was "ready."

Now this is where part of the argument comes into play.

Osgood was basically the only goalie Detroit relied on the next season. They won the cup again but were clearly heads and shoulders above the rest of the league as they handed Washington a sweep in the Finals.

He did win the Cup and he was their goalie, but I believe he was just in the right place at the right time. Now jump forward 10 years and I believe we have the exact same situation.

Also I would like to point out a fact that will help me in my later arguments. While playing for the Islanders and Blues for four years he had his two worst seasons with his worst goals against average and save percentage in his career.

Coincidence? I think not.

Now back to the Detroit thing. The Red Wings initially brought Osgood back to compete for the starting job in 2005 with Manny Legace. After that went well (not), he was supposed to help develop young goalies like Joey MacDonald and Jimmy Howard.

How did that work out? The Red Wings eventually acquired Dominik Hasek (again) to be their new starter until they could replace him with one of their younger players.

In the 2006-07 season, Hasek was leading their team to the Finals when it was halted by the pesky and undermined Anaheim Ducks. I believe the West would have won the Cup that year no matter who was in it: Detroit or Anaheim.

The next year Hasek was once again the goalie in the regular season until he became inconsistent with injuries.

Enter Chris Osgood into the picture once again. He played in the playoffs behind a stacked Red Wings team who had won the President's Trophy and was virtually unstoppable in the playoffs no matter who was their last line of defense, not that it mattered.

He won the Cup again and was immediately called "The Worst Goalie to Win the Stanley Cup Twice."

Totally true.

This season he is doing the same thing. Just being in the net and making sure those harmless shots from outside the dots don't sneak in.

And now he's about to win the Cup... oh wait!

In Game Four, he became truly exposed for the goalie he is. A weak one playing behind, literally behind, a stacked team.

The first goal was mainly his fault, but hey nothing to worry about, right? WRONG!

For the first time the Penguins decided to play with toughness, minus Crosby's fall, and dare I say it, but the Red Wings reminded me of the Penguins. Dives, cheap penalties, and "I don't want to play hard mentality."

Because these Penguins decided to play like the penguins described to me by Morgan Freeman, that is penguins with heart, it caused Detroit and Osgood some trouble. Staal's short-handed goal was a very bad one to let in all the way around.

The next minute of the game changed the way this series was going. Pittsburgh took control of the game and just simply overpowered the Red Wings.

Now there is a saying in hockey: "The other team can take as many shots as they like, but if the goalie is good you'll win." That was exactly true. Only it was true for Marc-Andre Fleury, and not Chris Osgood.

When Detroit's defense becomes exposed, so does Osgood. He was lucky the refs have to blow the whistles when they lose sight of the puck, or Game 4 could have been a blowout.

This game told me something, when Detroit doesn't play well, Osgood has to play for himself, because he can't hide behind the Wings enormous talent. And that is not a good thing if you're rooting for Detroit.

Tonight Marc-Andre Fleury was simply the better goalie, the fact that extremely helped Pittsburgh win their first two series of the playoffs this year.

There is still hope for the Red Wings.They are heading to the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena for Game 5.

Play better (you too Ozzie) or the Red Wings few weaknesses will be exposed. Goaltending is the key in winning the Stanley Cup my friends.

In my opinion whoever has the better goalie will win the Cup.

Tonight Chris Osgood was in the wrong place at the wrong time for the first time in his career.


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